Cataldi: Eagles defense historically bad

Billy Davis came to Philadelphia with less-than-stellar credentials as a defensive coordinator in the NFL.
Billy Davis came to Philadelphia with less-than-stellar credentials as a defensive coordinator in the NFL.

Based on early impressions, the Chip Kelly era is going to be every bit as exciting as we have anticipated. Unfortunately, it’s going to be even more exciting for opposing offenses. Yes, it’s already time to make a bold pronouncement. The Eagles’ defense is atrocious.

Granted, it was only one preseason game and the opponent was the gifted New England Patriots, but 334 yards allowed in the first half? A 62-yard run on the very first play from scrimmage? A 51-yard touchdown run on a broken play? Really?

The prevailing thought after that 31-22 loss had nothing to do with all of the talk that had preceded it. The quarterback battle is a two-man contest now, and Mike Vick has the early lead. DeSean Jackson has been backing up his big talk with even bigger plays. Somehow, Riley Cooper has already become a footnote.

What has emerged from the first weeks of Kelly’s tenure is a belief that the Eagles’ defense is not just bad — as it was in Andy Reid’s final season here — but historically bad. Even before the first preseason game, word from last week’s joint training camp with the Patriots was that Tom Brady was destroying the boys on the other side of the line.

The game itself was even worse. Brady was on the field for only two series, and he still managed a 140 quarterback rating by running the ball exclusively for six plays that consumed 80 easy yards, and then completing 7-of-8 passes on a second, sweat-free 80-yard drive. Brady could have put up 50 points in a full game — and that’s only if Pats coach Bill Belichick showed some mercy on his pal Kelly.

And speaking of Kelly, he has made one huge mistake since he took the job in March, and it wasn’t the re-signing of Vick or the handling of the Cooper mess. It was hiring a journeyman assistant with no record of success, defensive coordinator Billy Davis. The contrast between the Eagles’ offense — Kelly’s primary area of expertise — and the defense under Davis already is staggering.

Basically, his 3-4 scheme doesn’t fit the personnel. The linebackers look hopelessly confused and the secondary is an abomination. Is it too soon to pine for Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? What about Juan Castillo and Todd Bowles? Billy Davis served as a coordinator twice before getting the Eagles job — in San Francisco and Arizona — and lasted only two years both times. He will not make it that long here.

Chip Kelly is bringing a new spirit to football in Philadelphia. He is smart and quick and full of positive energy, a perfect fit for our passionate football city.

But first, he’s going to have to fix a defense that has the potential to undermine all of our dreams.

 

 

 Are Sixers moving to New Jersey

 

If you are a fan of the Sixers, the next few paragraphs may be the most important you read in many months — or they may be utterly meaningless. At this point, there is no way to know for sure.

All we can say right now is that the current ownership of our basketball team appears to be constructing a wall between Philadelphia and New York so thick and tall that it is completely shutting itself off from its fans. Never has a Philadelphia sports franchise conducted its business in a more insulting manner than the Sixers are doing right now.

Just in the past week, owner Joshua Harris and his reclusive new GM Sam Hinkie have been conducting interviews and negotiations with the next head coach, Brett Brown, 100 miles away in New York, which just happens to be Harris’ base of hedge-fund operations.

At the same time, Harris appears to have won the bidding for the New Jersey Devils, a team situated right across the bridge from Manhattan in Newark. The deal includes the new arena. The Nets, you may recall, have moved to Brooklyn. The Newark arena has no NBA team.

Are you putting together the clues yet? New-York-based owner buys a New York metropolitan hockey team, hires New York PR man Scott O’Neill to serve as spokesman for the Sixers and conducts Philadelphia business in New York. How far a leap is it to wonder whether Harris is hoping to move the 76ers closer to home?

Maybe it’s all just a crazy coincidence. Maybe Joshua Harris is not the cold-blooded billionaire that he appears to be. Maybe these growing fears that the Philadelphia 76ers could become the New Jersey 76ers sometime soon are all just nutty speculation.

That’s not the problem. The problem is, what if they’re not?

 

Utley plays baseball the right way

 
The Phillies spent $27 million last week to keep Chase Utley in red pinstripes through 2015, and even before the debate began over whether it was a good investment, Utley settled it himself. In this me-first era, he proved once again that he is a real hero.

Last Wednesday, the veteran second baseman was trying to score from second base on a single, something he had done successfully in 118-of-123 previous tries. The ball arrived before him, so he let his instincts take over. His entire body, including his brittle left knee, crashed into Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro. Utley was out, but that outcome meant nothing, nor did the game itself.

Utley had risked $27 million on that play because he hadn’t signed the new deal until the next day. Imagine that. In a meaningless game, on a disappointing team, with millions at stake, Utley still knew how to play baseball only one way — the right way.

The make-up of next year’s team already looks like a bizarre mix of old and new. An infield with Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley is more a reminder of the past than an investment in the future. An outfield of Dom Brown, Ben Revere and Darin Ruf is so young and inexperienced, they’ll need a babysitter. In short, the Phils may be both too old and too young next season.

And yet, if there is no place for Chase Utley on a team, how good is that ballclub? Bravo to the Phillies for bringing back a player who honors the game and our city every time he puts on his uniform.

 

 

Idle thoughts from Cataldi

 

» Stop the presses. After a 116-day search, the Sixers have hired Brett Brown to be their new head coach. Maybe it took that long to convince the San Antonio assistant to commit to a franchise with an absentee ownership, a publicity-shy GM and the worst roster in the NBA. Good luck, Brett. You’ll need it.

» Cary Williams, the 49th-ranked cornerback last season, is much better at running his mouth than actually running. He recently slammed coach Chip Kelly for making defensive players into “a doormat.” Williams wants a more physical approach. Fine, but shouldn’t he stop begging off practice with minor injuries before he talks so tough?

» Did anyone actually buy the ridiculous notion that Riley Cooper left the Eagles for a long weekend, and suddenly the demons that led to his outrageous, racially insensitive conduct were banished? I didn’t think so.

» The decision to allow Charlie Manuel to keep managing the Phillies is hurting Ryne Sandberg’s reputation even before he gets the Phillies’ managing job. Based on Sandberg’s shaky work as third-base coach, fans are losing faith in the heir apparent. Is there one good reason why Manuel is still here?

» After releasing two more free-agent busts last week, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro admitted he wasn’t perfect. He took over a championship team, blew his huge budget on bad players and now he’s saying he’s not perfect? What gave it away?



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Drive charged in fatal hit and run, police…

The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for a fatal hit and run in Manhattan last weekend. Doohee Cho, 33, was hit…

Local

Mayor de Blasio raises minimum wage for some…

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday morning that will raise the minimum wage for workers employed by private companies that receive more…

National

3 myths about the working poor

Linda Tirado works to debunk some common stereotypes about the working poor in her new book, "Hand to Mouth."

Money

Lawsuit funding advances: friend or foe?

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Many plaintiffs awaiting resolution of their lawsuit or legal claim often find themselves in a tricky financial…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

Entertainment

Interview: Metro chats with filmmaker Meir Kalmanson, man…

A New York filmmaker hands out smiles to its residents.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 30: 'Selfie,' 'Utopia'…

'Selfie' This modern day take on the "My Fair Lady" story stars John Cho in the Henry Higgins role. Perhaps instead of "the rain in…

Music

Can't-miss weekend events continue to attract the masses

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Earlier this summer, the Firefly Music Festival drew crowds of tens of thousands of people to Dover, Delaware.…

MLB

Mets 2014 report card

The Mets wrapped up their eight straight season without a playoff appearance last weekend. Needless to say, they fell a bit short of general manager…

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

Style

Products that support breast cancer awareness and research

Asics GT-1000, $100 Asics’ third pink collection in collaboration with Christina Applegate’s Right Action for Women includes this pink-accented version of its best-selling GT-1000 3…

Wellbeing

Dr. Marisa Weiss: Where we stand on breast…

As an oncologist and a survivor herself, Dr. Marisa Weiss knows the urgency felt by those diagnosed with breast cancer. Genetic testing has accelerated the…

Wellbeing

Bees' stingers hold new hope for cancer cure

A promising new lead in the search for a cancer cure has turned up in a place that most people naturally avoid. A team from…

Home

Emily Henderson on small space design

Design expert Emily Henderson shows us how to upgrade our cramped quarters.